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DriftingShadow 10-02-2013 09:15 PM

Thin Lab- Need some suggestions
Hey all!
Like the title says, I have a 3 year old lab (almost 4) named Emmett. He is actually a mutt, but seems predominantly lab/golden mix. We are positive he is half lab because his momma was registered- don't really know what else is in there :lol:

Anyways, he is SUPER skinny. He is UTD on deworming, shots, etc. He is very active and always acts like he is starving. He gets 4 cups of Purina One Large Breed Adult Formula (Chicken and Rice flavor) over day (recommended amount) split up into 2 cups in the AM and 2 cups in the PM.

I know dogs are not supposed to be fat, but I worry about it and would feel a little better with a bit more cushion of fat on him. Right now, his ribs, spine and hips are easily felt. The vets said he is fine, not in danger of starving or anything but that they felt he would be fine if I wanted him to gain a few pounds just for my peace of my mind. He currently weighs about 61 pounds and I think he would look just perfect at about 71 or so.

Everyone who sees him claims hes emaciated :oops: . The vets and vet students at my barn however tell me the same thing as his regular vet. They say people are just used to seeing overweight dogs, especially overweight labs.

On this scale he is probably about a 2 ...

Any ideas on what I can do to help him gain a bit? Thanks for the help!

Sharpie 10-02-2013 09:36 PM

Assuming you're not seeing loose stool, diarrhea, gas or any other signs of him not digesting/absorbing food properly, it's just a calories game. If you want him to gain weight you need to increase his calorie intake (either more cups of food, or a more calorie dense food like the grain free types) and/or decrease his activity level. The caveat is that some animals DO have naturally high metabolisms, and just like weight loss, gain isn't always as easy as it sounds. If he's a good eater as you say though, I don't really think you'll have too much trouble.

Now, the vet part of me has to say, 10 lbs on a 61lb dog is a HUGE difference. That's like an extra 25lbs for a 150lb human. If the medical types who see him think he looks good, maybe scale that down a little to high-60's? You really don't want him carrying extra weight- labs and all large breed dogs are prone to arthritis as they age. Carrying extra weight around during their life makes it happen faster and worse, and crippling arthritis is a very, very common reason for euthanasia. So if you can prevent/delay it by keeping them lean throughout their life, you get more good quality time with your dog over his lifespan, as well as saving money on dog food.

ETA: I have an 8 and a 9 year old GSD and still occasionally have people ask if they are puppies- I chalk it up to always having kept them lean and fit. They have more go and vigor than many younger fat dogs I see. And everyone thinks healthy lean dogs are too thin around here too.

CLaPorte432 10-02-2013 09:41 PM

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Agree with the above poster.

Go to TSC and try 4Health Grain Free food. Or Taste Of The Wild. Also grain free. More calorie dense food. We have Labs and feed the 4HealthGF. My dogs look great!

Incorporate it slowly into his diet so you avoid digestive upset.

And yes, 10 pounds may be too much. 5 Would probably be sufficient but only you will be able to know since you see him. It is healthier for anyone (animals included) to be a little lean as opposed to overweight.

The 4Health will I'll not be much more expensive then Purina ONE.
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DriftingShadow 10-02-2013 09:44 PM

Great! Thanks sharpie!

In the summer when it gets exceptionally hot he will usually gain 5 lbs or so and beef up a bit more simply because I dont take him to the barn with me due to the fact he doesnt know when to slow himself down so I always worry about heat stroke.

Thanks for the advice about not gaining so much. My vet mentioned he would like to see him at 65 or 66 to see what it looked like, so I will shoot for that weight before I think about going any higher.

I will look into some more grain free type foods. If I kept him on his current food, how much should I increase his current food amount? If he is getting 4 cups should I up it to 6 cups?

DriftingShadow 10-02-2013 09:52 PM

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Here are some pics I just grabbed. He doesnt look TOO bad until you touch him. And then its just muscle and straight bone. I am used to my older (and therefore more chubbier, old age has really slown him down) german shepherd to compare too. He has a lot of cushion versus Emmett's none.

Its hard to tell because of his longer hair, but his ribs are pretty visible.

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Sharpie 10-02-2013 10:25 PM

If you stick with your current food, I would increase it by 1/2 to 1 cup a day (that's a 12-25% increase) and reweigh him in two weeks. It can be very easy to overshoot, and just like with horses, slower is better than rushing it.

CLaPorte432 10-02-2013 10:26 PM

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I would increase him to 5, maybe 6 Cups, 2-1/2-3am, 2-1/2-3pm, or 2am,1mid,2pm. However you can do it.

once at an ideal weight, you could lower to Five to maintain. Depends on how he does.

does he eat his Four cups? Or does he leave some. You can put out more food, just depends on if he's going to eat it.
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AQHSam 10-02-2013 10:35 PM

You could try adding 2 tblspoons of Purina meat to the bowls.

Purina One is what I feed and both dogs are doing really well on it. However, I don't feed based on the label. I think I give the dobe mix 1/2 c more per feeding and the English cocker is 1/8c less per feeding.

it's a slow process adjusting food to determine optimum weight. You have to give it a week or more to really tell. start by increasing 1/8 - 1/4 c per feeding.

Also, your dog looks more flat coated retriever, which is completely differently boned than a solid lab. Flat coats are usually much smaller boned than labs and golden retrievers; they are more like setters to me. If you are judging it based on pictures of labs and goldens, your dog may look too thin to you.

Also, your dog is young; he is probably going through his peak energy level right now.

Compare the body type against a fit and trim English setter or a flat coated retriever. Go to for pics or visit national breed registries and look at show pics. Those dogs are usually in absolute condition and are good examples of appropriate weight.

DriftingShadow 10-02-2013 10:58 PM

He eats all of his food CLAPorte!

Sam- wow! I googled some images of irish setters, and was greeted with pics of dogs that look like his exact body type! He must definitely be mixed with irish setter.

In fact, if this setter were black - it would almost look entirely like him! That makes me feel much better. I guess I was judging by lab when that is obviously not the type of body type he has. Thanks all. I will still increase his food a bit. Thank you all for the suggestions

cakemom 10-02-2013 11:22 PM

I have a shepherd like this. I occasionally feed him satin balls to get his weight up.
How to: Make Satin Balls or Fat Balls - | Dog Forums and Community
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